Pagans of the East

Some of my favorite moments from my trip to New York were those that I shared with a group of environmentally-oriented pagans. They immediately welcomed me with open arms and hearts, included me in their ritual for the Autumnal Equinox and place in the People’s Climate March. Friendly, powerful people doing some of the hard work our planet desperately requires. I wanted to give them a little shout-out here, it is my hope we can connect with them again and perhaps work together from our respective coasts to contribute ritual or other efforts for environmental causes- which are exceptionally close to every pagan’s heart, I’m sure.

I’ve found their blog at http://pec-nyc.blogspot.com/. Courtney Weber, their organizer, was exceedingly nice to me and a very skilled leader. All the members were passionate, funny, kind , highly intelligent individuals positively bursting with talents of every sort.

I talked at length with Anaise Ring, an amazing woman with a triumphant life story, who crafts beautiful objects from metal and stones and infuses them with every ounce of positive intention she can. She was wonderfully generous with me and bestowed on me several precious gifts I shared with a couple people at the meeting yesterday. I can attest to the quality and energy of her work, and as an independent artist who has put a lot into what she considers her passion, if you have a need for any of the things she makes, please consider supporting her. Her prices are absurdly reasonable and she often offers coupons on her Facebook page (under her name- Anaise Ring). She also often does commissions and will essentially make you whatever you want with the stones and design of your choice- just send her a message. And tell her Rowan sent you!

I also spoke with a fellow named George Courtney, who works as an astrologer. He is a very fun guy and very smart, we talked a lot about dance, martial arts, and biopsychology. He was very perceptive and was able to tell me a vast quantity of information about star and planetary positions and their relation to me. If you are interested, he has a Facebook page for his work specifically at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/George-Courtney-Astrologer/200995636595103

I was astonished and honored to be invited to call the Western quarter for them during their Mabon ritual. It was an intense experience of tangible power (we were all pretty amped for the climate march the following day) and being in Central Park on a gorgeous day contributed to that, as did song, dance, and drums. I’m hoping we can do a similar ritual sometime and incorporate music more into our practice- I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels strongly about the combination of music and magic. If you have any talents in that direction, or really, if you love music and want to share this love with us, please let me know!

There were many other members in attendance, but I unfortunately did not get as specific information if they do work in the pagan community. Hopefully though, if we manage to foster a bond between our groups, we will continue to find out more.

Pictures exist somewhere on Patrick’s and Nell Rose’s phones- they are both too busy for words, but perhaps I will get a hold of those shots soon.

MANY thanks again to the Pagan Environmental Coalition of NYC, and blessed be!

Rowan

MPA Treasurer

Journeys Through Peace

Source: The Nicholas Roerich Museum

The question of the day is surely not “what have we done?” but rather, “what have we learned?” Of course, that is always our first question. We are students, after all. It is certainly an intrinsic aspect of my identity, and I compulsively took notes during all official proceedings. Next to me, there is a small notebook filled with line upon line of particularly salient quotes or ideas that I must now decipher and actually process, I must determine what is ultimately most important to pass on to those who eagerly await analysis of what I have been doing. And yet, there is a potent and underlying current of apprehension. How will I discern the the greatest meaning from these few collected words?

It was a glorious morning to stand in the Rose Garden of the United Nations, too bright to look directly at the shining surface of the water’s edge or towering skyline beyond it. All of the delegates held our flags tightly enough to keep them from flapping into each others faces, and I could hear nervous chatter in various languages from all sides. The bell was rung and silence was held. I held mine for those who might never experience such meditative moments, to stand in quiet solidarity with global brethren secure in this beautified fortress of political discourse. Like a sigh, the Doves of Peace were released and soared skyward, a cascade of white, a prayer for freedom and the clean expanse of future glories. IMG_6705 IMG_6711 IMG_6702

It was quieter and warmer in Conference Room 3, where the delegates scrambled to find seats, more subdued with awe and intimidation of official surroundings. Before each of us was a small booklet about Le Petit Prince: une action de diplomatie culturelle, the flag of a nation accompanied by a message of peace and #peaceday gleaming blue on every monitor, the significance of which would all be explained later. For me, though, these were ultimately set pieces and it was the people, the speakers themselves, that held my rapt attention. I am always at school, and these were my professors, I was ready for the lecture to begin. Futile a mission as I knew it might be, I opened my notebook in the hope I could somehow disseminate the vastness of the concepts to come into words. I felt an almost panicked desire to discover some method of retention, imprint every small detail upon my memory. There was the distinct sensation of visceral energy within each individual moment, as though the intensity of the discussions was able to permeate the air itself, with each breath came another rush of penetrating emotion and profundity. I stood blindly upon the edge of a cliff, still buffeted by the winds of the East River, that small notebook my only tether.

Secretary General Ban Ki Moon addressed us in a cordial manner, before moving into his own pleas for utilizing our youthful energies. His conclusion, however, impressed upon us the concept of peace in the context of our relationship to the universe as a whole: “We are a small planet. One of many stars in a vast sky. We need to be humble.”

We need to be humble.

It is something we have always known, that the greatest leaders derive power of influence from their humble nature. To remain humble as a species and as individuals is of singular importance if we are to develop a mutually beneficial relationship between the environment,  nations, animals, peoples of the world. There needs to be an intrinsic understanding of the lack of an inherent hierarchy, superiority is a man-made concept and as such, requires the same efforts to achieve its necessary deconstruction.

Our Pagan tradition is one of personal spiritual and oral communication, and has always been uniquely captured by music. In fact, I believe this to be a universal truth, music has singular potential for change among all others. The unusual property of music lies in its ability to invite the listener to create a dialogue within themselves, creates an instantaneous universe in which you exist, the protagonist of an ancient narrative. Introspection will always transcend speechmaking in terms of encouraging mass shift of consciousness. As Yo-yo Ma took bow to string, we experienced the vibrations of idealism and hope as you would waves upon the shore, alternately soaring and diving with the energy of his intentions. Midori Goto followed with her piercingly emotional violin, and her own particular call to action: use what you are given, what you have. Our differences mean we have different things we can contribute toward this common goal. Use your own talents, as there does not exist a predetermined path toward activism and justice. We all hold within us the ability to enrich the world from wherever we are in our lives. Her music became charged with these words. It was a song of personal empowerment. It was a song of utilizing fortune and loss alike, allowing fate itself to guide us all toward our own place within this process, a piece of the puzzle, one gear among many.

Still, still, I couldn’t help thinking: But what of the music of conflict?

What of the sounds of war that become background to the daily life of youth? Our colleagues in the DRC never neglected to hold us accountable, to remind us that even as we spoke about what we have done and what we more we could do, there was suffering. Through video conference they asked the United Nations why this continued to be so, and I felt deep admiration for their powerful dedication, their steely resolve to make all of us who were so safe and comfortable in our padded chairs of Room 3 understand that our experience was special. We were fortunate for any respite from disorder and hurt, and for some, the noise of suffering rings perpetually in their ears.

Jane Goodall had this to say: “There is a quote: we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children. What is evident to me is that it has been stolen. We have stolen this earth from you.” She reminded us of the impossibility of overemphasizing the importance of respect in our interactions with one another. Without respect, peace will never come. A student presenter added, “Work with us, not for us.”

Pagans, look to our moon. Human footprints rest there today, yet we continue to destroy our own planet, our home, and our family. It is that which cannot protect itself, those who cannot speak for themselves in their own defense or who are not included in these conversations are those we need to consider first, think of first in our journey towards sustainable harmony. Our animals, our environment, our peoples with stolen voices, they are of the absolute and utmost importance.

Later, at a reception held in The Nicholas Roerich Museum, we would gaze upon The Mother of the Universe and hear how she drew her veil across her eyes as the suffering of the earth became to painful for her to bear. One day she will again pull it back, when peace reigns supreme. Chief Arvol Lookinghorse stood beneath her and extended his blessings to us, those who work to preserve what remains and work with nature to regain what has now been lost. The Black Mountains, he said, are shaped like a heart. He feels that heartbeat and the pulsating blood and so must we. In our recognition and reverence of Earth, we must experience both its pain and its power. Its devastation and its ability to restore. Coral reefs that are bleached bone-white will one day become the sand, the ground on which new worlds will grow, and this is hope without complacency.

I look now at my notebook and ponder without respite what it is that I have learned. When I was flying into the city, I happened to glance down and see a miniature Lady Liberty, aglow in the distant waters below. It surprised me and I did not initially know what it was that I was looking at, only that the sight was familiar and of certain significance. After a moment, I laughed, recognizing the minuscule landmark for what it was. After traveling for an entire day, contemplating what it was that I may be returning with when I next entered an airplane, realization finally dawned. I may not know what it is that I have gained or grasp the entirety of my experience as it happens, but I will have obtained it nonetheless. It will only be later that I will see how my perspective has been shifted, and the effects of such internal change. If I continue to revisit these memories, these ideas, my notebook, consider what peace means to me today, I will do what is right and what needs to be done. This, I am certain of.

So I invite you to consider what peace means for you, on this day and every day after. And share it with others, even with me. We will feel the Earth together. We will know things will improve under our hands.

Blessed be.

Rowan

MPA Treasurer

A Spot of Publicity

Just dropping a quick note to alert you all to the profile published this morning on The Wild Hunt regarding myself and my upcoming trip to the United Nations for their International Day of Peace. I made a point during the interview to communicate the immense role this club has played in my being given this unbelievable opportunity.

You can read the article here.

Hope everyone manages to find some cool on this warmest of Sundays.

Blessed be!

Rowan

MPA Treasurer

Auspicious Beginnings

‘O Artemis, queen of the groves, thou who in solitude lovest thy mountain-haunts, and who upon the solitary mountains art alone held holy, change for the better these dark, ill-omened threats. O great goddess of the woods and groves, bright orb of heaven, glory of the night, by whose changing beams the universe shines clear.

from Phaedra (Seneca, 54 C.E.)

And so it was on this first of many nights, candles flickering low and sweet under Harvest Moon, set to guide us into community once more. We were joined by many new faces and by those who return, as we were by the trees, amethyst, and positive intentions.

How wonderful to see so many express an interest in our group! It was truly a pleasure to meet and converse with each one of you, and I hope for your continued attendance as you can, want, or need a space for a pagan-oriented or affiliated aspect of yourself.

We spoke during the meeting about what we would like to experience going forward. In terms of concrete and tangible desires, there were many common themes. A few mentioned potential field trips- to the ocean, to the redwoods, or to visit others in the community who specialize in a particular area of our interest.

Perhaps it is due to the academic environment our club calls home, but it appears that many are drawn to our meetings by an enthusiastic and insatiable desire for knowledge. I believe we are bound by a certain mutual belief that growth is governed by a willingness to open and expand the mind. In the past, we have conducted workshops and hosted guests with great success, and continue to ask for new ideas regarding new undertakings. Subjects mentioned last night include:

  • cord magic
  • aspects of the Goddess
  • music – circle singing, chanting, sound healing, drumming
  • plants and herbs – for ritual and for healing
  • tarot

And others!<
I also wanted to draw attention to a desire one new member expressed for a community of mutual support who manifest proactive or positive energy for one another, and who work together towards a common goal. I feel this is an excellent concept to champion as we enter this new semester, particularly in light of some recent events in the spiritual community of our school. (If you are particularly interested in promoting interfaith relations, I urge you to connect with the Mills Interfaith Alliance, who focus on intersectionality.)

Remember: The circle is open, but unbroken.

Blessed be.

Rowan
MPA Treasurer

Welcome!

Gather ’round, O Pagans of Mills!

I’ve started this blog to maintain a record of some of our more interesting explorations or any momentous events. Consider it an online, collaborative ‘Book of Shadows’, if you will. Hopefully, this may also a way to keep in touch with past members who have moved on, pursuing their path as we must, but who still wish to maintain a connection to our group and our activities.

Always, we welcome discussion and input from our members, as well as questions or requests (perhaps even some casual chatter). Please, feel free to comment with any of the above, or if there is a post you would like to contribute I’m open to receiving emails at my personal account, rweir@mills.edu.

Over the course of the semester and beyond, I’m hoping to do a minimum of weekly updates (barring the influence of life or other unforeseen twists of fate), but perhaps as we get going, there may be even more to say.

For the time being, I bid you welcome, and many blessings for the coming year.

Blessed be!

Rowan

Treasurer